Walking to Guantánamo is the chronicle of a journey through Cuba. Somewhat depressed, and dissatisfied with the way my life was going, I came to the absurd conclusion that the solution to my problems would be to take a long, long, trip. I thought I should do something no one had ever done before, at least no one I had ever heard of: put on a backpack and walk across Cuba. Not the short way, as many wiseacres suggested when I told them about the idea, but the long way, from Pinar del Rio in the west, to Guantánamo, approximately one thousand miles overland to the east. 


I imagined I would meet lots of Cubans sharing the road, and really get to know the country and its culture. As I trudged along under the scorching Caribbean sun, out of shape, overweight, and sweating profusely, it didn’t take long for me to realize that most Cubans, rather than wanting to meet me, thought I was crazy. They suggested that a tourist like myself, undoubtedly loaded down with dollars, ought to rent a car. Standing by the side of the road, waiting for a bus that might never come, they waved to me as I walked by, and then started giggling. It was extraordinarily embarrassing. 
On the third day of the hike, when I had made it all of thirty-five miles from Pinar del Rio, a man and his son offered me a ride in their horse-drawn cart, and things just went downhill from there. Soon I was riding in tractors, hitch-hiking, and shopping for bicycles, but at least I started to meet Cubans, and when I did I was introduced to all kinds of food, music, poetry and religion I knew almost nothing about. Those are the experiences this book is about. I was invited to dinner in tiny thatched huts in the middle of nowhere. I ate mangos while sitting in a river with a bicycle repairman who had ridden in Cuba’s answer to the Tour de France. I was schooled in the uses of medicinal herbs by ancestral African spirits. I went birdwatching in the Zapata Swamp, the vast marsh at the infamous Bay of Pigs. I attended Santería ceremonies, and participated in ancient musical family coffee-preparation rituals. I bought a cast-iron Chinese one-speed bicycle, and got dozens of flat tires. Finally, I had a picnic at Guantánamo Bay.
All in all, it turned out to be quite an adventure.